|Sunset in Death Valley near Badwater|
Okay, I actually did hear about the Russian near miss, and because our media access was really limited, we first thought we were hearing that 400 people had DIED. It just goes to show how stories can get out of hand. What an extraordinary event however, and what a relief that no one actually was killed.
Meanwhile, I've had a delightful weekend doing what I love: teaching geology in the field, this time mostly in Death Valley National Park. There is such a difference between drawing lines on a chalkboard to represent rock layers, and standing in front of the real thing.
in this post). These principles allow us to start discerning the sequential story of these rocks. We did some basic rock identification so the students could start determining the ancient environments that were responsible for these sediments. Note the preponderance of reds and browns; these rocks were exposed to oxygen at the time of their formation and burial. The region was also subject to occasional volcanic activity, as shown by the white ash layers (which also provide a means of accurately dating the rock).
The sedimentary sequences were cut by a series of minor faults, providing us with an introduction to tectonic processes, as well as offering a fine example of cross-cutting relationships. Ultimately, the students were able to work out a reasonably complete sequence of events that produced the spectacular red cliffs.